3 Reasons Why Typography Matters in Poster Design (2024)

Imagine yourself in a hospital where the ‘EMERGENCY’ sign has those soft scripted letters you often see on a wedding card. Chances are you’ll either stare at it in humor or stand in the middle of the building with no clue where to find the Emergency Room.

In short, typography matters.

In today’s digital era, people are becoming more mindful of the visual impact of design and how the world looks around them. Helvetica, a documentary by Gary Hustwit, describes this perfectly how font affects our everyday lives.

In fact, it ushers a larger conversation about the global visual culture and how people are starting to notice the importance of ‘Good Design.’

Typography has a powerful relationship with the filming world from the golden times of Silent Films to the marketing industrial complex of the contemporary film industry.

The iconic poster of Jurassic Park with a typeface created by Rudolf Koch is one of the prime examples of why Typography is so important in Poster Design. Simon Garfield, the author of Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, wrote an article for Fast Company in 2011, listing “The 8 Worst Fonts in the World”.

Among these fonts, he also listed Neuland, the typeface for Jurassic Park, stating that the typeface is a classic representation of a Theme Park font and more suitable for the big rides at Busch Gardens, Alton Towers, and Universal Studios rather than the page.

In other words, a perfect fit for the iconic poster for Jurassic Park.

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In this article, we’ll dive deep into design lingo in an attempt to unveil the importance of typography in Poster Design and try to understand why it’s important.

But first, let’s take a look at the basics of typography in Poster Design.

The Basics: What is Typography?

By definition, typography is the art of arranging letters and text in such a way that it is legible, clear, and visually pleasing to the eyes.

According to famed typographer and book designer Jan Tschichold he says, “Perfect Typography is the most elusive of all arts. Sculpture in stone alone comes near it in obstinacy.”

In Movie Poster Design, we use typography in the Title, Copy, Actor Names, Pedigree, Release Date, and Billing.

Plus, there are all sorts of different movie poster “types,” and if you are completely new to movie poster design, then you may find this article very helpful:

  • The 7 Different Types of Movie Posters

When we look at a movie poster, the first thing we notice is the ‘Title.’ So, if your poster contains brilliant illustrations, photos, and graphic content but bad Title Design, it can easily make your audience turn away and overly confused.

When we talk about Typography, we don’t necessarily only mean Font Style, Size, or Color. In fact, it’s about arranging all the typographic elements, such as visual hierarchy, contrast, grid, placement of text, whitespace, and font choice, in your design.

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Reasons why Typography Matters in Poster Design

The element of Typography in Movie Poster Design defines the difference between Cheap Cinema and Quality Filming Content. Despite being such a crucial part of your design, typography is often side-tracked or ignored during the creative design process.

Let’s take a look at “HOW” typography impacts your Poster Design and “WHY” it is so important

1. Evoke the Correct Feeling and Emotions in the Audience

Think of that ‘EMERGENCY’ sign again.

Have you ever wondered why every Hospital in every country of the world has the same Bold Capital-Letters Helvetica Font in bright red color? This is because every font style or typeface has a specific impact on our mind evoking certain emotions and feelings.

Nowhere around the world would you have the opportunity to witness a scripted ‘Emergency’ signboard in a hospital.

Let’s try to understand this with an example of a Poster Design from the Filming Industry. The lettering of the poster for the iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien, was designed by Steve Frankfurt using the famous ‘invisible’ typeface, Helvetica.

Using the typeface structure, he brilliantly builds the ominous mood of the film by increasing the spacing between the letters of the title (tracking).

In an interview with Art of the Title, title designer Richard Greenberg stated, “Steve once said to me that sound is practically the 50% of the film, and I completely agreed with that. So in the poster, we abstracted the idea of showing the off-putting sound but in a typographic way.”

The mechanical look of Helvetica, combined with the spacing of letters in the overall design, and the color white, creates a very subtle hint of haunt and curiosity in the minds of the audience.

In this way, using Good Typography Design, you can evoke the correct feeling and emotions in the audience in context to the overall film. It’s a true art that needs to be learned and eventually mastered should you want to become a movie poster art director.

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2. Medium of Communication

Writing has been one of the earliest means of communication in human history. So, basically, when we incorporate text into our design, we are communicating some form of a message with the audience.

In poster design, simply putting a well-crafted illustration or a photo on a piece of paper is not going to get the job done.

So, for this reason, you need to put some form of text on your poster so people can actually get your message, which is film promotion.

Typography is not merely about letting the people know the Name of the Movie. It’s also about communicating what the movie is about and what people should expect from it.

If you recall the example of Jurassic Park, you’ll notice that the lettering speaks more than just the movie title. It communicates the adventure and excitement that the audience should expect from the movie.

3. Typography defines the Personality and Identity of your Design

Imagine seeing a poster for a Horror Movie with a brush script or the Curlz typeface. You’ll probably assume it’s a parody or maybe a Horror Comedy.

The way you choose your font style, arrange letters, and use color and size in your design defines your poster’s character.

Typography lets you create a certain atmosphere and have a specific personality in your design.

Your poster can be sci-fi, horror, comedy, romantic, or, even, a thriller based entirely on your typography.

An excellent example of this is the iconic poster for the movie Metropolis, designed by Heinz Schulz-Neudamm. The final design features pioneering visual effects created by Eugen Schüfftan, with hand-drawn masthead lettering.

The artwork, along with its masthead, uses exaggerated aesthetics to convey the world’s emotional experience transcending towards industrialism.

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Schulz-Neudamm’s lettering displays interferences as a depiction of a society in the movie disrupted by soulless technological advancement. Through the use of harsh strokes in disruptive cascades, the lettering emphasizes the bleak starkness of composition.

Danelle Cheney writes for Culture Journal AEQAI, “Expressionist typography was a form of resistance to the conformity of culture and a deeply emotive form of political and social commentary.”

The simple use of letters defined the strong sense of personality and character of the design and the movie.

If you are looking for ideas to make your posters even better you may want to check out this article:

  • 9 Things That Make A Movie Poster Effective

Final Words

So, you see, “Poster Design” is not merely about fancy photo edits and professional illustrations. It’s about making your whole design come together through the use of different elements.

One of these elements, and perhaps, the most important, is the use of typography.

Typography is basically your mode of communication with the audience. Apart from the movie name, it expresses what the movie is about and what the audience can expect from it.

Despite being one of the most crucial poster design elements, typography is often disregarded and placed at the bottom end of the totem pole.

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Lucky for our readers, we are launching an amazing course that will teach you all the necessary skills you need to know to master typography in your design. In this course, we will walk you through a step-by-step on how to select typography for your design.

Our classes are taught by professional designers, illustrators, creative directors, and art directors working in the industry. We ain’t cool with art school professors that have never stepped foot in the design agency to actually teach design.

In short, we’ll only be teaching you the field necessities and leaving all the BS out.

At the moment, our course is in the development phase. Sign Up for our Newsletter, and we’ll send you a personalized notification when it launches!

If you’re looking for inspiration and a creativity boost, feel free to view our “Poster Gallery” to check out some beautiful designs and artwork.

3 Reasons Why Typography Matters in Poster Design (2024)


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